Fittingly on World Rhino Day (22 September), the One Land Love It (OLLI) team, designated by Port Elizabeth businessman and rhino activist, Wayne Bolton; concluded their OLLI Frontier Rhino Ride Expedition at the Donkin Reserve on Friday afternoon.
Bolton wheeled off on a 2000km mountain bicycle ride from Port Elizabeth, through Eastern Cape, to KwaZulu-Natal, right up to the Mozambique border in order to raise awareness and funds, and to prompt a call-to-action of the constant scourge of rhino poaching and the species’ diminishing numbers.
It was said at the gathering, that on average, three rhinos get poached, dehorned and killed every day, and to raise awareness for conservation initiatives, Bolton, along with his family (the team), journeyed in connection of 20 of the most afflicted game parks in the prone EC and KZN regions.
Too often, negative rhino poaching atrocities swarm the media on the death tolls and the illegal and irrational horn trade, in ways to supplement baseless human greed and need. Rhino poaching, has to an extent, ‘fatigued’ the general public, to the extent of developing an immunity to the situation and its extreme ratifications.
“With about 21 000 rhino residing in South Africa, approximately 85% of the world’s population, we can no longer accept losing one rhino to poaching, let alone 1000 in a year,” expressed Wayne Bolton’s wife, Nikki, who has served in steady force for the OLLI Expedition.
“The birth rate is being rapidly overtaken by the death rate and despite in-roads in counteracting rhino poaching; the harsh reality is that rhinos are heading fatally towards extinction,” she added.
Last year, Bolton ventured on a similar initiative, just along different routes, linking up 19 different SANParks along a 6000km route further north, then west toward the Northern Cape and Namibia, right back down south to Cape Town again – magnificently, the route formed the shape of a rhino itself..
Bolton and his family-team managed to raise R64 000 in this year’s expedition and R127 000 last year – a combined R191 000 raised for cycling a total 8 000km. The money was raised for OLLI’s primordial beneficiary, Care for Wild Africa, the world’s biggest rhino sanctuary.
“It is incumbent on us all as citizens of the planet, to safeguard our wildlife. With 60% of the world’s vertebrate numbers lost since 1970, the time has come for ordinary citizens to take responsibility for our environment,” proclaimed Wayne Bolton.
“The accountability for conserving the iconic rhino inescapably rests with South Africans as we are custodians of a vast majority of the species. We are a proud nation and refuse to let extinction be a part of our legacy,” he added.
In the midst of World Heritage also falling on Sunday, a flag-raising ceremony was conducted by members of SANDF, with messages of unity and conservation then handed by NMB Mayor, Athol Trollip and CEO of NMB Tourism, Mandlakazi Skefile – a section that Bolton proudly serves as brand ambassador.
“Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism is extremely proud to congratulate Mr Wayne Bolton on yet another successful expedition for the plight to conserve our natural heritage, especially today as it is significantly World Rhino Day,” Skefile said at the event.
“Wayne is an inspiration and phenomenal leader in the endeavour to unite every person to make a difference in protecting our natural resources that are without a doubt one of the many reasons that makes Nelson Mandela Bay an ideal tourism destination.”
“Mr Bolton’s character is what makes him an exceptional tourism ambassador for our destination and we thank him and wish him well for future expeditions,” she concluded.
The real life-sized fibre glass rhino, named OLLI, was towed along throughout the journey, and at every corner of the expedition, sentiments were carried through by placing rings around OLLI’s horn, until the horn was fully hooped in colours resembling the South African flag. This not only lends significance to the conservation of rhinos, but sentimental to the country’s World Heritage too.
The Bolton family plan to continue their drive to protect South Africa’s wildlife, specifically rhinos, through the formation of an OLLI non-profit company.
Image: Wayne Bolton (left), NMB Tourism CEO Mandlakazi Skefile (middle) and NMB Executive Mayor Athol Trollip (right) posing in front of OLLI the rhino.
Watch to get a view of the flag-raising and the homecoming of the OLLI Frontier Rhino Ride Expedition at the Donkin Reserve.